Identifying Countries At Risk Of Climate-Related Instability, Humanitarian Crises Key To Targeting Efforts, Reducing Impacts

Foreign Affairs: Climate Shocks and Humanitarian Crises
Joshua Busby, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and Nina von Uexkull, assistant professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University and associate senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo

“…[S]everal risk factors make some countries more vulnerable than others to the consequences of climate change. Three stand out in particular: a high level of dependence on agriculture, a recent history of conflict, and discriminatory political institutions. Research suggests that in countries that display some or all of these risk factors, climate extremes are especially likely to lead to disastrous outcomes, including violence, food crises, and the large-scale displacement of populations. We have used these factors to identify the countries that are most at risk from climate-related instability and humanitarian crises in the coming years. In doing so, we hope to provide an early warning to policymakers about where climate impacts are likely to prove most destabilizing in the short term, and where efforts to minimize their effects are most needed. … The risk factors we identify are, naturally, not the only conditions that can contribute to instability and humanitarian crises. But unabated climate change is likely to amplify the challenges of these high-risk countries in decades to come. They will see more extreme consequences, and their already fragile governments will become even more hard pressed to manage violence and feed their populations. Understanding where instability is most likely to occur is an important first step to reducing risk” (11/29).